Long COVID: 1 in 3 people did not regain pre-COVID health – Israeli study

According to a new Israeli study, one in three adults who contract the COVID-19 virus does not return to their pre-infected state, even several months later.

After recovery, “about 34.6% of participants said they have not returned to their initial state of health,” indicates a peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers from the Maccabi Health Fund, one of four in the countries, based on surveys. on 699 patients between one and six months after recovery. On average, respondents had recovered five months earlier.

The study, led by Dr Tal Palaton, head of research and innovation at Maccabi, highlighted the prevalence of symptoms such as memory impairment and muscle aches and warned against the public health consequences of a lengthy COVID. Policy makers “should expect a significant impact of this syndrome on public health,” the study read.

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Research showed that symptoms were much more common in people who had felt the presence of the coronavirus, compared to those who had been asymptomatic. They were also more common in women who had contracted COVID than in men and in people who were overweight or smokers.

Maccabi conducted its investigation in September 2021, two months before the arrival of the Omicron strain in Israel. This means that the results do not reflect possible differences in Omicron’s long post-care COVID profiles compared to previous strains.

And while the sample size is large, it represents only 7.5% of those invited to take the survey. The authors therefore acknowledge the possibility of a “selection bias,” which means that because the survey was voluntary, people who presented with symptoms may have been more motivated to respond than others.

However, the study contributes to a growing body of literature that highlights the long-standing COVID phenomenon, its incidence and, thanks to another Israeli study published last month, its impact on well-being.

A woman is tested for coronavirus using a rapid antigen test at a Magen David Adom testing station in Jerusalem on June 20, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

Hebrew University epidemiologist Ronit Calderon-Margalit, who was not involved in the study, said that despite the study’s limitations, it is a valuable contribution to an important topic.

“I think doctors and healthcare professionals come across COVID very often along. However, the syndrome is not yet well characterized, in terms of incidence, prevalence, symptoms and prognosis, “he told Times of Israel.

“This syndrome probably represents an additional burden on community health care and we lack information on how to treat it or what follow-up to do, or even the possible long-term consequences of this syndrome. We need high-quality studies to shed some light on this topic. “

Because the new study involved a control group of around 1,398 people, it shows that some health conditions are more common among people who have recovered from COVID than those who have not.

About 37% of respondents who recovered reported memory impairment, compared with 14% of those who were not infected. For chest pain, the comparative figures were 20% and 12% and for weakness they were 53% versus 33%.

Myalgia, or muscle pain, was experienced by 24.7% of the non-COVID group and 40% of the COVID group.

Regarding the significance of the findings, the authors wrote: “The impact of COVID-19 on human health is immense and evolving. It is a dynamic and ever-changing field of health care and research, with unpredictable consequences. One area of ​​concern is the long-term health impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The long-standing COVID could have a significant impact on human health for years to come. “

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